why an “artificial pancreas” is not as magical as it sounds

ABC News is excited about it! An artificial pancreas trial has begun! People with diabetes may be able to live (dare we say it) normal lives!

But…wait. What exactly is this fantastical device that could someday revolutionize diabetes care until we find a cure? What does it look like? Oh, right, it looks like the continuous glucose monitor on one side of your stomach, the pump attached to the other, and a “computer” that takes readings from the former and tells the latter how to function.

For people like me who use a glucose monitor (continuous or otherwise) and an insulin pump, that computer is called brains.

Trials have shown the bionic system [wa-na-naaaa] (as it will be heretofore called) does a better job regulating blood sugars than plain ol’ brains, which makes good sense. The computer portion uses complicated algorithms to predict blood sugar behavior and administer the correct amount of insulin (or, in the case of incoming hypoglycemia, no insulin at all). Sounds dandy.

But what about malfunctions? What about knowing our own bodies and eating habits better than any computer possibly could? The prospect of a computer shutting off my pump automatically or putting insulin into my bloodstream without me realizing (nope, you can’t feel it goin’ in) is effing scary. I like the control, even if it means expending some extra brains-power to have it.

So, thank you, Boris, really. I think this type of research is definitely important and should continue. But…no thanks. Not yet, not for me.

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One response to “why an “artificial pancreas” is not as magical as it sounds

  1. mmm. …BRAINS!

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